One session that I would have attended if I would have been at the conference is the "What Blogging Brings to Business" session. It took place yesterday and was a panel discussion moderated by Jessica Lipnack and with bloggers Patti Anklam, Doug Cornelius, Cesar Brea, and Bill Ives in the panel. Some of the panelists have already blogged about the session and their experiences from it.
Regardless if you have attended the session in person or not, it must interesting to read what and how other bloggers report from the session. David Spark provides a summary of the issues and points about blogging that where brought up in a post on the Enterprise 2.0 blog, for example:
Businesses often need to prove their expertise to existing and potentially new customers and other stakeholders. They also need to capture the knowledge of their employees so that the knowledge can be shared to other employees and is still in reach and when an employee leaves the building.
A blog is a personal knowledge management system. That’s your initial audience. From that it grows to people who share your interest.
Blogging disciplines you to collect thoughts and write them down.
A blog lets you prove your expertise. Claiming expertise without it today can be difficult.
A more extensive coverage of the session can also be found at the Internet Evolution blog where Nicole Ferraro reports about the discussion between the panel and the audience about the value of blogging for businesses. Some of the persons in the audience seem to have a problem with that blogging takes time and energy (well, doesn’t all work to that?):
One audience member shouted that only those with time and energy should keep a blog.Jessica Lipnack thanks the attendees and her fellow panelists in a post on her blog and nicefully wraps up what blogging really is about.
"It just seems like a large time-suck out of a very busy existence to begin with," said another disgruntled audience member.
"The fastest way for these people to come around is to show them their competition is doing it," said panel moderator Jessica Lipnack, CEO of NetAge. "The competitive part is really the convincer."
That so many showed up for this session indicates the interest in blogging. As several said today, it's really not about the blog. It's about the communication and connection blogs make possible.If you happen to have read my most recent post, “Being close makes a difference”, I hope that the value that blogging can bring to a business is quite clear on a high level. It all boils down to if tools like blogs can be used to make communication and collaboration more efficient or not.
Jessica concludes in her post that "the conference is high energy and jam packed. Another indicator of interest in this topic - even when travel is difficult and costly."
I would say that the interest in this topic is huge, but it is hard to measure and even harder to communicate to the people who need to be convinced. Traditional measures, such as measuring the number of people attending an offline event, needs to be complemented by measures that measure how many people that - like me - take part of the event directly and indirectly online. THERE you have a value of blogging that cannot be overstated. Just think about the REACH a business have can have thanks to blogging.
It is easier to count the number of attendees physically present at a conference session (who do not need to be interested to show up) than to measure online activities related to the session. If you cannot measure and show the results to people in a convincing manner, which usually means showing them numbers and figures, then they might not trust what you are saying even if you have a really good reasoning. In addition, it is often more powerful to say that X persons were attending the session than that X visitors have read a blog post or that the post has been linked to or commented X number of times.
What I'm saying is that we are still stuck in old and blunt ways of counting interest. The same holds true for how we calculate value. Many business people still expect to be able to calculate the ROI of business blogging. We all have to do what we can to change this mindset. Can you calculate the ROI of having better relationship with your customers?